Cliff Carlisle was born in Taylorsville, Kentucky in 1903 one of quite a number of singers that started out as something of a copyist of Jimmie Rodgers, and in fact recorded with him on steel guitar in one 1931 session. He started out recording in 1930 with guitarist and vocalist Wilber Ball for the Starr Piano Company (Gennett) in Richmond, Indiana. After Ball left the act in 1934, Cliff began playing with his younger brother Bill Carlisle, who eventually eclipsed Cliff in popularity. The two brothers continued recording, both together and separately, well into the 1950s, when Cliff retired. Cliff Carlisle died in 1983 in Lexington, Kentucky.
Champion 16212 was recorded February 13, 1931 in Richmond, Indiana, and features Wilber Ball on second guitar. According to the sales figures presented by the Old Time Herald, this record sold 1,461 copies, not a whole lot by any means, but a pretty decent seller by 1931 Champion standards.
One of Cliff’s standards, which he recorded on more than one occasion (this one being the first), “The Brakeman’s Reply” has quite a twist ending; you’ll have to listen…
“Box Car Blues” is a perfect example of the kind of rip-roaring steel guitar and hollering yodeling at which Cliff Carlisle so excelled. Just listen to that guitar!